Using the law to stop the violence—and save taxpayers money

http://www.ihssbca.org/blog/?edu=sample-letters-for-applying-for-a-job When Sandra (not her real name), a single mother of two young kids, decided to let her children stay with their grandmother for a couple of weeks over the summer to save on childcare costs, she didn’t realize the consequences that would bring. Her abusive ex-husband and the father of the children responded to this news with violent threats that made Sandra fear for her family’s safety—threats to kidnap their children and even to kill Sandra. A Georgia Legal Services attorney helped Sandra get a temporary protective order against him, and the incessant calls and threats stopped completely. Sandra can once again live in peace, focusing on taking care of herself and her kids.

http://www.fcn.unp.edu.ar/fcn/?read=essay-about-give-love-get-love&id=3 As an attorney at Georgia Legal Services, I’ve heard many people question the benefits of a temporary protective order. A temporary protective order is more than just a piece of paper. Studies show that temporary protective orders have a one in two chance of ending the abuse altogether for the victim. For those who continue to experience violence by their abuser following the protective order, over time, the violence stops or is significantly reduced, according to a Department of Justice study.

go to link Having a lawyer increases the chances that a victim of domestic violence can obtain a temporary protective order. The free civil legal services provided by Georgia Legal Services to domestic violence victims protects victims from further violence. Our society benefits, too, according to The Institute for Policy Integrity, which found that “the benefits to be gained by subsidizing more legal services can often justify their costs.”  For every $1 spent for civil legal services to obtain a protective order for domestic violence victims, $30 in public costs are saved.

source site One in four women in the US become victims of severe physical violence at the hands of their intimate partner according to the Centers for Disease Control. Domestic violence not only has incalculable costs to the victims and their families, but to the community as well. The CDC estimates that domestic violence costs the US over $9 billion each year in medical costs, law enforcement, social services, and more. Georgia Legal Services has obtained millions of dollars in economic benefits for victims, and has set high goals to shape the national narrative around family violence away from victim-blaming and toward supportive, holistic, results-oriented solutions.

writing service Call Georgia Legal Services at 1-800-498-9469 or visit us at www.glsp.org and click on Donate Now to make a contribution. Georgia Legal Services is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation with a mission to provide civil legal services for persons with low incomes, creating equal access to justice and opportunities out of poverty.  

see Vicky Kimbrell
Family Violence Project Director
Georgia Legal Services Program

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GLSP Press Statement on Federally Funded Health Care

http://www.fcn.unp.edu.ar/fcn/?read=vuw-thesis-template&id=3 1.7 million people in Georgia received Medicaid coverage as of April this year—and the majority of them are children. That’s 17 percent of the state’s population, or nearly one in five people. Georgia spent less in Medicaid expenditures on each enrollee than the national average—$3,916 versus the $5,563 spent nationally. Because of this, under the Senate-proposed healthcare bill, Georgia likely would have received a lower per capita amount than states that expanded Medicaid or spent more per person.

watch If the fallout from Congress’ not-yet-determined decision on health care results in cuts to Medicaid, how will the state decide who can’t receive that assistance?

astonishing hypothesis Will it be the 69-year-old intellectually and physically disabled woman who is only able to remain in her home by receiving home and community-based services provided with Medicaid funds? Without those services this woman, whose case is like so many of the clients I represent, would be required to live in a nursing home, which she could not afford on her $760 Social Security retirement income.

writing services websites Or will the state deny someone like 65-year-old Mr. Jones, who was recently approved for Nursing Home Medicaid, when his dementia makes him unable to live safely independently in the community? Mr. Jones draws Social Security benefits of $1,023 per month and pays $973 per month to the nursing home–leaving him $50 to pay for essentials not provided by the facility. Medicaid pays approximately $4,300 per month for his care.

see url Or perhaps a five-year-old severely disabled child will be denied the Medicaid assistance that allows her to receive nursing services in her home while her parents work? Shall the parents stop working to provide for the child’s round-the-clock care, or should the child be placed in an institution?

These examples all represent cases that have been handled by Georgia Legal Services Program in the past and likely will be in the future. They represent the very difficult choices that Georgia will have to make in the coming years if significant cuts to Medicaid are made.

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GLSP Recognizes Elder Abuse Awareness Month

see June is elder abuse awareness month. Our attorneys were featured in the media to speak out about the prevalence of elder abuse, and ways Georgia Legal Services Program can help seniors.

Robert Bush, a supervising attorney in Savannah, was on the statewide Georgia Public Broadcasting’s morning radio show, On Second Thought. Listen to the segment on the GPB website here.

Tomieka Daniel, managing attorney in Macon, wrote the below op-ed published in Elijay’s Times-Courier:

An estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans are abused or neglected each year, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging. June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month.

 “I regularly see elderly clients that are taken advantage of by their loved ones or others around them—their homes taken, finances threatened, emotional well-being shattered. People don’t realize how at risk elderly people really are,” says Tomieka R. Daniel, Managing Attorney in the Georgia Legal Services office in Macon.

Elders who are abused are twice as likely to be hospitalized, four times as likely to go into nursing homes and three times as likely to die, according to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. “While most abusers are family members, trusted professionals and complete strangers may also target older adults,” a World Elder Abuse Awareness Day press statement states.

At Georgia Legal Services our attorneys help seniors protect themselves against such abuse, whether it be physical, emotional, financial, or otherwise. We’ve assisted with temporary protective orders to create safe environments for elderly clients in abusive situations. We’ve helped with evictions from apartments and nursing homes.  And we’ve saved clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debts by enrolling them in the healthcare insurance programs.

In honor of Elder Abuse Awareness Month, we at Georgia Legal Services want to make it known that we’re here to help. For more information, call 1-800-498-9469 or apply online at www.glsp.org. . To report abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older adult, please call 1-866-55AGING (1-866-552-4464) – Press “3”. For help with benefits, including Medicaid or food stamps, call our Benefits Hotline at 1-888-632-6332.

 

 

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ACLU of Georgia Files Brief on Behalf of GLSP Client

http://www.fcn.unp.edu.ar/fcn/?read=thesis-defence-guide&id=3 In an amicus brief filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia on behalf of a Georgia Legal Services Program client, the ACLU joins GLSP in defending students’ rights in schools.

See below an excerpt about this case from the ACLU:

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Georgia have filed a brief in the Georgia Supreme Court defending students’ due process rights and challenging “zero tolerance” policies that feed into the school-to-prison pipeline.

The brief was filed on behalf of “S.G.,” a high school student who defended herself in a fight on school grounds.  The Henry County Board of Education expelled S.G. from school without giving her the opportunity to assert a defense for her actions.

“Students shouldn’t be deprived of their right to an education – a right guaranteed by the Georgia Constitution – without due process of law, including the right to argue self-defense,” said ACLU of Georgia Executive Director Andrea Young. “The ACLU of Georgia is dedicated to combating the school-to-prison pipeline and challenging the unjust school policies that feed it.”

S.G., a client of Georgia Legal Services Program, lost her appeals to the Henry County Board of Education and the Georgia Board of Education, but won her appeal in the Superior Court, which found that S.G. was justified in using force because she acted in self-defense. This holding was affirmed by the Georgia Court of Appeals.  The Henry County Board of Education has appealed the ruling to the Georgia Supreme Court.

The ACLU brief argues that schools must provide students with due process before depriving them of their constitutionally-guaranteed right to education, including an opportunity to assert that they acted in self-defense, which is the same defense that is available to adults in other contexts.  Furthermore, Georgia law makes clear that a student who defends herself in a fight or steps in to break up a fight has not broken a school rule.

“Zero-tolerance policies like the one adopted by the Henry County Board of Education funnel a disproportionate number of minority students into the school-to-prison pipeline and fail to make schools safer,” said ACLU of Georgia Legal Director Sean J. Young. “We urge the Court to affirm the decision by the Court of Appeals and protect students’ rights to due process and equal protection.”

source To read the full article about the brief click here.

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GLSP Director Reflects on Big Year

here This commentary was originally published in the Daily Report on Oct., 23, 2015.

scales empty courtroom

Courtesy of the Daily Report.

source url In Service: Georgia Legal Services Director Reflects on Big Year

So many of our clients’ stories start with struggle and result in triumph, through their own persistence and a lawyer’s help at the right moment.

One senior citizen finally decided that 30 years of abuse was enough. Once she made that decision, with our help she was able to leave her husband and find peace and safety. But the decision to make the journey was hers.

Or the high school student near graduation with options for college—threatened with harsh discipline for a minor act for which others were not punished. With our help he was able to graduate.

 

Read the full article here.

Phyllis Holmen is the executive director of the Georgia Legal Services Program.

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A letter from a GLSP client’s son

A letter from a client’s son reminds us at GLSP of the importance of this work.

August 26, 2015

To Whom it May Concern,

This letter is to serve as a testament and record of outstanding work by [GLSP attorney], Attorney for Georgia Legal Services on behalf of my mother, [name kept confidential] and her family.

In all work, communication, and outcome [GLSP attorney] was nothing short of extraordinary.

In order to qualify for a government program, one must have the Wisdom of Solomon and the engagement of a Wall Street Banker. [GLSP attorney] navigated the ways and means of my mother’s needs with aplomb, energy, and a delightful sense of charm. She was at all times a complete professional, yet my family always felt that she treated individuals as people, not rotating digits.

That [GLSP attorney]’s work was completely successful is beyond our dreams, and yet that is exactly what this outstanding attorney accomplished. My dear mother is in a nursing home under the care of the Medicaid program, and she is finally receiving the immediate care an elderly woman with health problems should receive.

We are grateful to Georgia Legal Services, and in particular, to [GLSP attorney] for providing sterling assistance in a difficult field.

You have our profound thanks.

Most Sincerely,

[Son of client kept confidential]

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GLSP saves patient from eviction from nursing home

Portrait of the old woman at a nursing home.

GLSP saves nursing home patient from eviction after son takes money needed to pay her bills

Sandra Bartlett was transferred to a nursing home when she could no longer live at home. Her son, who was on all her accounts at the bank, liquidated all her Certificates of Deposit totaling more than $80,000 and transferred the money to his personal bank account without his mother’s knowledge and after he had been told that money was needed to pay her nursing home bill. He also diverted almost all Mrs. Bartlett’s monthly income to his own use and lived rent free in her home. He failed or refused to apply for Medicaid for his mother. Finally, when an application was finally submitted for her, he admitted to the caseworker that he had taken all her money. The nursing home filed papers to discharge Mrs. Bartlett for failure to pay her bill. The state nursing home ombudsman referred this case to GLSP. At this point, Mrs. Bartlett’s other son became involved. GLSP was able to have the second son become Mrs. Bartlett’s agent under a power of attorney. GLSP also appealed the discharge and worked through another Medicaid application, through which Mrs. Bartlett was qualified for nursing home Medicaid. The nursing home agreed to drop the discharge and the client was able to stay in a safe environment.

http://www.fcn.unp.edu.ar/fcn/?read=research-paper-written-in-apa-format&id=3 The client’s name has been changed to protect her confidentiality

 

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Child with cancer gets education plan with GLSP’s help

Girl with cancerMrs. Valasquez contacted Georgia Legal Services Program because she was worried about her 13-year-old daughter, a middle-schooler who had been diagnosed with leukemia. The daughter, Amada, was being bullied at school and on the school bus. Children were, among other things, pulling off her hat and laughing at her head, which was bald due to chemotherapy. A boy was harassing her daily on the bus. Amada was also being left sitting in an office during physical education, rather than being given access to a computer or other activity she could participate in. Because she was often ill or hospitalized, she also needed extra help with her academics and extra time to complete assignments. Although Mrs. Valasquez had spoken with school officials, she did not feel her concerns were being heard. She felt that Amada, because of her illness, was not getting the education she had a right to.

GLSP took her case and contacted the middle school principal, who said that a special education plan had been in place for Amada in elementary school, but a new one for middle school had not been developed. GLSP lawyers worked with the school and brought in an education specialist from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where Amada was being treated for her illness. After several months of negotiation, an individual education plan (IEP) was formulated that gave Amada extra time to complete assignments, extra time to get to classes, specific help with her school work and time to rest and drink water during the day. She was also given permission to wear a hat to school to cover her bald head. School officials also addressed the bullying and helped make Amada’s time in school safer and more productive.

GLSP’s intervention in the case helped make school officials more reliably attentive to Amada’s needs. She and her mother were satisfied with the new education plan.  Amada is now making good progress in school.

The clients’ names have been changed to protect their confidentiality.

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Macon GLSP helps Indiana man get $59,000 in back SS benefits

On September 12, 2013, Mr. D arrived in Macon from Indianapolis, Indiana, by bus looking for a policeman to take him to Milledgeville to turn himself in to the Baldwin County Sheriff Department.  Mr. D’s Social Security and SSI benefits had been terminated due to an outstanding warrant for violation of probation due to a traffic ticket. Until his benefits were stopped, Mr. D had not been aware of having been placed on probation. He came to Georgia believing he would have to serve time in jail to get his income back.  Instead, with help from Georgia Legal Services, he went home with $59,000 in back benefits.

Mr. D is a member of a large group of Social Security beneficiaries who have lost benefits over the past few years because the Social Security Administration  had been illegally terminating or denying benefits to persons it believed to be “fleeing felons.”   These individuals were alleged to have outstanding warrants against them for parole or probation violations.  In most cases, they were never notified why their benefits had been stopped.   Moreover,  many of those whose benefits were stopped were not in fact the correct individuals, due to similar names, or who, in fact, had no outstanding cases against them. Many like Mr. D, had only a minor charge of which they were not aware or which had been long ago dismissed by law enforcement officials. Many were in nursing homes or were disabled, and far from “fleeing.”   A nationwide class action lawsuit, styled Clark v. Astrue, won a court ruling that back benefits had to be paid to people who were unfairly denied them. GLSP has helped hundreds of Georgians  with cases similar to Mr. D’s, most of whom were elderly and had no idea why their benefits had been stopped.

After being hit in the head in 2004, Mr. D. had applied for and was awarded Social Security and SSI benefits. He was notified by the Social Security Administration in January 2010, that his benefits were being terminated and should have been terminated as of September 2009 due to the existence of the outstanding probation warrant in Baldwin County.  The probation arose from an incident in 2009 when Mr. D was returning home from Washington County where he had visited his sister. Driving through Baldwin County, he was stopped by the Sheriff’s Department for a traffic violation. He returned home to Indiana, failed to appear for his court hearing and, without his knowledge, was placed on probation for the traffic violation.

After his benefits were stopped, Mr. D believed he needed a criminal attorney to resolve the warrant issue, he sought the assistance of two criminal attorneys in Indiana.  The attorneys made a couple of telephone calls to the Probation Office in Milledgeville only to inform him that he did have an outstanding warrant out for his arrest.  They provided him no assistance with SSA.  Mr. D. stated he had never heard of Legal Aid.

As a result of losing his benefits Mr. D. and his wife became homeless.  His wife got a job as a waitress and they moved into various motels.  Believing that it was the only way he could get his benefits restarted, Mr. D. Came to Macon to turn himself in to authorities to serve whatever time he had to serve.

After getting off the bus in Macon, he asked four people for directions to the police department. All four people gave him the wrong directions.  He was wandering around the courthouse and ran into Phil Bond, Managing Attorney, Macon Office of Georgia Legal Services.  Mr. D. explained his situation to Mr. Bond not knowing who Mr. Bond was or where he worked.  Mr. Bond told Mr. D. that GLSP could help him and brought him to paralegal Leroy White to assist him.

Mr. White spoke with Rachael Henderson, GLSP Social Security Specialist and explained the situation to her.  Ms. Henderson has worked on the Clark v. Astrue case since it began and had one of the earliest clients to receive back benefits. She advised Mr. White to take Mr. D. to the Macon SSA and explain that he was a class member of Clark v. Astrue which Mr. White did.

The SSA representative agreed that Mr. D. was a Clark member and informed Mr. D. that  he had Social Security benefits of $59,860.00 available to him due to the Clark case.  Mr. D.’s Case was reopened, and he was told that he would have to go to his local SSA to update his information so the lump sum benefits could be released to him.

Mr. White explained that Mr. D. had no money to return home and SSA agreed to cut him a check for one month of his benefit of $731.00.  Attorney Amanda Smith took Mr. D. to her bank where he was able to cash the check. Mr. White took Mr. D. To the bus station to buy a ticket home and then took him to the motel across the street from the bus station. Mr. White spoke with Mr. D’s wife on September 16 and she informed him that he was at the local SSA office updating his information so the lump sum benefits could be issued to him.

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Disabled daughter able to go home “to Mama’s house”

 

Ms. Fisher was 40 years old living in a nursing home after having suffered a severe brain injury giving birth to her son a few years earlier. She was unable to speak clearly or walk, although she was responsive to visitors. Her mother, Mrs. Worth, was raising her daughter’s older son and wanted her daughter to come home where she could care for her, as well. She needed full-time nursing help to make that possible but couldn’t afford it.  She applied to the state Department of Community Health’s Independent Care Waiver Program for help, but her application was denied because a nurse who evaluated Ms. Fisher said she was not mentally able to make decisions about her care and could not be cared for at home. Mrs. Worth came to GLSP for help. She said her daughter could communicate enough to indicate that she wanted to come home and that she felt confident that with the help of nurses, she could care for her daughter.

GLSP attorney Mary Irene Dickerson took the case and went to see Ms. Fisher at the nursing home. She found that Ms. Fisher could indicate answers to questions by nodding or shaking her head and pointing to things. She could propel her own wheelchair, speak a few words and even sign her own name. At one point, Ms. Fisher even said, haltingly, “Wanna go home.”

Ms. Dickerson convinced DCH to reevaluate Ms. Fisher and attended the reevaluation, which was carried out by the same nurse. At one point, the nurse read a question to Ms. Fisher about what she would do in case of an emergency involving smoke in the home. After struggling to communicate, Ms. Dickerson wrote, “Finally, client got the pen and paper and very laboriously wrote ‘call 911.’ It was wonderful. Client also responded to other questions about wanting to go to ‘mama’s house’ and ‘right now’ and that she was in Georgia.” The nurse recommended acceptance into the waiver program and said Ms. Fisher could go home as soon as arrangements could be made for caregivers. (The client’s name has been changed to protect her confidentiality.)

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